San Jose battles Vancouver to stay above playoff line

The San Jose Earthquakes will storm into a key road showdown against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday after going unbeaten in five of their previous six contests, while planting themselves above the playoff line.

The game, at the Whitecaps’ adopted home venue of Providence Park in Portland, Ore., will be between the two teams closest to the playoff line in the Western Conference. The Whitecaps (7-12-0, 21 points) are in eighth place, while the Earthquakes (6-7-6, 24 points) are in seventh.

San Jose’s defense might be playing as well as it has all season. A 4-0 victory over the struggling Los Angeles Galaxy on Oct. 14 was one thing, but Sunday’s 0-0 tie with the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders, and on the road no less, highlighted the team’s defensive continuity.

“I think we now see a team that works hard, where everyone runs and everyone plays,” San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda said. “The players now play with a confidence that they didn’t have a month ago. I hope they can keep this momentum, stay calm, and strive for more.”

Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski made his 300th MLS start, becoming just the third player to do so after Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman.

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